As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive.No, we're not a bunch of literary pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.
Jessica Day George - Young Adult & Middle Grade Author
Amy Finnegan - Young Adult Author
Kim Thacker - Writer and Mommy
August 12, 2012
DRAGONSWOOD by Janet Lee Carey, 2012
Wilde Island is not at peace. The kingdom mourns the dead Pendragon king and awaits the return of his heir; the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is strained; and the regent is funding a bloodthirsty witch hunt, hoping to rid the island of half-fey maidens. Tess, daughter of a blacksmith, has visions of the future, but she still doesn't expect to be accused of witchcraft, forced to flee with her two best friends, or offered shelter by the handsome and enigmatic Garth Huntsman, a warden for Dragonswood. But Garth is the younger prince in disguise and Tess soon learns that her true father was fey, making them the center of an exciting, romantic adventure, and an ancient prophecy that will bring about peace between all three races - dragon, human, and fairy. (Amazon)
Reviewed by Kim Harris Thacker: writer, mommy, and Bookshop Talk host
I enjoyed reading DRAGON'S KEEP years ago, and I always hoped that Janet Lee Carey would write another book that takes place in the wonderful, magical world she created. DRAGONSWOOD satisfied my yearning to know "what happens next," and left me excited for future Wilde Island books.
The characters in DRAGONSWOOD are terrific. A few of my favorite include:
Tess. She is everything one would want in a heroine: She's fiesty, but also fearful. She's loyal, but she makes huge mistakes. She's brave, but she's heedless. In other words, she's utterly believable.
The witch hunter, Lady Adela. This woman is so scary! The tale is told throughout the kingdom that she was abducted by witches a few years before our story takes place, and was tortured. The witches cut the tendon in one of her ankles and also put out one of her eyes. After she was rescued, the fey gifted her with a glass eye that can, supposedly, help her to pick witches out of a crowd. Creepy. And what's even creepier is that you can't help but feel a little bit sorry for this villain! That's what makes a truly great villain, I think--someone who is not just purely villainous, but also human.
The Grey Knight. Who is he? Well, he accompanies Lady Adela on her witch hunts, but there's something more to his character--something I can't wait to learn more about in subsequent books!
The plot was fast-paced and satisfying. There was no lull in the mid-section, like there is in many fantasy novels, owing, perhaps, to the fact that even when Tess found safety for herself and her friends, that safety seemed under constant threat of shattering into a million nasty knives of scariness. Pretty cool.
The settings were terrific. The human world seemed like something out of early English history--all except for the part where the royal line contains dragon blood, which manifests itself in scaled limbs or golden eyes with slit pupils. They fey world was lush and suitably lecherous (nothing unsuitable for a young adult audience). The dragons were...awesome. Carey made them lovable and unpredictable at the same time, rather like a few cats I've known.
The epilogue was my favorite section of the book, since it tied up all the loose strings but also introduced tantalizing new ideas (which I hope Carey added for the sake of the next book).
I hope you'll read DRAGONSWOOD! While it was nice to have read DRAGON'S KEEP first, I don't think it's essential.
Market: Young Adult Fantasy
Sensuality: Moderate (There are some allusions to one-night stands among the fey. No real details are given.)
Violence: Moderate (Tess is tortured, and there are plenty of weeping wounds. Ugh.)
Mature Themes: trust, abandonment, identity, physical abuse, torture (witch hunts), romance, and lust (those darn fey again...)